Cancer Types

Bladder Cancer

Information about bladder cancer.

What is bladder cancer?

Bladder cancer develops when abnormal cell in the bladder grow in an uncontrolled way. If it is not found and treated early, bladder cancer can spread to other parts of the body.

Who can be affected by bladder cancer?

Bladder cancer is more common in men than in women. The risk of developing bladder cancer increases with age.

Risk factors

Anything that can increase your risk is called a risk factor. Having one or more of these risk factors does not mean that you will develop bladder cancer.

Risk factors for bladder cancer include:

  • Smoking tobacco
  • Family history of bladder cancer
  • Chronic urinary tract infections
  • Some workplace exposure to certain chemicals

Signs and symptoms

There may be no early warning signs that you have bladder cancer. Some of the signs and symptoms may include:

  • Blood in urine, referred to as haematuria
  • Frequent urination
  • Painful urination
  • Feeling the need to urinate but not being able to
  • Back pain


As part of the investigation process your doctor will do a urine test to see if you have blood in your urine.

You may be referred for other tests including a cystoscopy. A cystoscopy is when a small, thin tube containing a camera (a cystoscope) is inserted into the bladder. As part of the cystoscopy the doctor may take a biopsy. This is when a small amount of bladder tissue is removed and looked at by a pathologist under a microscope to decide if it is cancer.

Your doctor may refer you for other tests, including imaging tests such as a CT scan or an ultrasound.


If you are found to have bladder cancer the treatment will depend on whether the cancer has spread further within the bladder and the body, the severity of your symptoms and your overall health.

Treatment options can include surgery to remove the cancer cells or the whole bladder, chemotherapy or immunotherapy (medicines to destroy the cancer cells) or radiotherapy (radiation to destroy the cancer cells).

Helpful websites

Cancer Society, Bladder Cancer page

The Mayo Clinic, Bladder Cancer page

Cancer Council Australia, Bladder Cancer page